Category Archives: Life’s Journey

When we spend time to reflect, we learn new wisdom that are already accumulated within ourselves through experiences, waiting to be found. All we need to do is to spend time to reflect.

Hurting People Hurt People

Have you ever heard of this phrase? Hurting people hurt people.

People who feel hurt within themselves tend to inflict hurt on other people… innocent people… people who never did them any wrong. And many times, the hurt they have within themselves fester there because of… themselves and their sick desire to remain that way.

And what pains me even more is when they hurt their immediate family members, especially the young ones, who, in turn, hurt others. And the curse continues down the generations until there are no more offspring or one or all of them decide that the curse ends with them and cuts all such ties.

It is unfortunate that such people are more common than we really know.

One encounter comes to mind and it was at an old folks’ home where I served with at-risk children I befriended. The children came to spread some Christmas cheer with such innocence and some even with genuine eagerness. Yet, we met quite a number of nasty old folks who yelled nasty things at us no matter what we did. Fortunately, there were really nice and warm folks as well. And for some unknown reason, our children had only kind responses even to the nasty old folks. Overall, things happened pleasantly even as some old folks grumbled unhappily all the way.

I think the nice “grandmas” and “grandpas” sort of gave the kids a perspective of our mortal life which made the kids leave the place a little bit more mature (and some even in tears).

Then there are the sporadic encounters on the streets. You might walk past them from time to time. Recently, an old lady was blocking a passageway and I softly requested for her to “excuse me” for me to get past. She told me to “Get out of here! Get lost! Excuse me, excuse me?!?!” It was as if I had done her such wrong. I just quietly left her. I can only imagine all the bitterness she must have harboured in her soul over the years.

I’ve also seen how a person hurt by whatever, now still feeling very easily hurt and appears to desire hurting others. Her behaviour is very unpredictable and can be quite extreme (by my own standards, that is). She appears to find joy or relief in hurting other people. She also appears to be hyper easily offended even over the most innocent and harmless happening. That is… not only does she feel offended by people’s innocent words and actions, she even feels offended by incidents and ties the incidents to people she thinks are offending her.

She may profess to love others, especially her own children, but I seriously doubt she has grasped true love. Her child exhibits similar traits and jumps at every opportunity to get another child, whom she is jealous of, into trouble. And there is this almost sick-like pleasure she seems to get when the other child feels hurt by her.

In order to get the other child into trouble, she is willing to lie, act innocent and even whisper things into that child’s ear to make her do things the other child would get punished for. So much so that I don’t even know how to correct that child, especially when I know the root cause is not coming from the child herself… albeit the wrong seed planted in her is already a seedling.

To hurt the other child’s feelings, she will simply give the cold shoulder when the other child wants her attention.

I know the child is not really aware of what she is doing. She is only acting out what she has learned from her role model at home. She is a hurting little girl who is hurting someone else to ease her own pain.

How do you help such a little girl before her seedling becomes a young plant and even into a tree that becomes scarring to uproot?


The Importance of Multilingualism

When she was still a baby, we spoke plainly with each other.
When she began understanding English, we spelt certain key words to avoid her understanding. E.g. “should we bring her to the p-l-a-y-g-r-o-u-n-d or should she n-a-p?”
When she began to understand some of these spellings, we started using Mandarin keywords.
…and then it became full Mandarin sentences.
Now that she understands Mandarin, we speak in Teochew but it is getting really hard cos our own Teochew is so SSOOO limited.
This is the end of our secret conversations with each other.
Should have learned more languages in the past. But who knew it was so important for parenting! haha!!!

Let Them Play and… Be There

I’ve been a parent for a little over 4 years… not much hands-on experience… but I’ve been observing parenting styles and their outcomes since I started having long-term memory.

I’ve adopted the “love them fiercely, play with them and be the parent” style. (Sorry, I have not yet come up with a cooler phrase). This was recently affirmed as an effective style when I met an old friend with teenage kids – gentle, loving, kind, good-spirited, God-fearing kids. For her, she said “Never pass your authority as a parent to another person” and “give them LOTS and LOTS of love”.

What I mean to “love them fiercely” is to tell them daily that I love them, give lots of hugs and kisses, give my time, my listening ear (and heart) and if we could afford it, a gift here and there once in a while.

When I say I “play with them’… it’s just that… play with them. Play doll together; play pretend together; play catch together; play hide and seek together; play wrestling, etc. Through playing with them, many things will happen, including undesirable behaviours. I will then correct them on the spot. Even when nothing negative seems to be happening, lots of positive things are happening. For example, I demonstrate how to be gentle and safe even when apparently playing rough (e.g. wrestling or sword fighting). I use my Ps and Qs. Etcetera.

“Be the parent” means that even though I seemed to have gone bonkus, I am still the adult with responsibilities and the parental authority over their lives. When it is time to bathe, they have to bathe. When it is time to eat, they have to eat. When it is time to sleep, they sleep. When they are ill-mannered, they have to be corrected.

My eldest has been mingling with older kids here and there (she is usually the youngest no matter where we go because we had our children late in life). Kids who were parented with theories found in parenting books usually bullied her, were mean-spirited, and did not exhibit behaviour that I would like her to imitate. These kids usually could read at an early age and seemed to have “discipline” such as keeping still to feed themselves or colour or write. For older ones who were in school, they seemed to be academically “up there”. They have become book-smart but lacked age-appropriate maturity and love.

Whereas kids of parents who let them PLAY and PLAY and PLAY all day through their preschool days (and even into primary school) were, while rowdier, nicer, kinder, gentler and friendlier to younger children like my daughter. Of course, kids being kids, there will be moments when they get rough and dangerous. But I did not have to be put on the spot because for this group – their parents were always present to catch teaching moments. And such parents are more often not, very others-centred and disciplined their kids a lot stricter to be nice to others and to share. I did not have to discipline their children for them or feel the need to protect/defend my own.

Before you think that these kids are out of control and ill-disciplined… be informed that their parents set physical, emotional and behavioral boundaries – all age-appropriate. And when caught outside these boundaries, the kids are immediately disciplined according their their age and personality.

In other words, these parents are building character over academic achievements. They contextualise and treat each child uniquely, yet fairly. They teach them to put others above themselves. This is the group of parents I belong to. With character, academic achievements can follow (with humility). But with academic achievements, character seldom follows (pride tends to set in instead).

It’s so true that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor 8:1)

But I must admit that the parenting style I adopt is getting harder and harder to do as I notice more and more self-centred parents teaching their kids to be self-centred. Around such people, I have trouble teaching my kids to be others-centred because they are only going to be bullied (both by the other parent and child) and keep losing out and she will keeping commenting that it is unfair. In such situations, I normally have to think on the fly on how to handle each unique situation such that my child is not unfairly treated yet the other party is still respected. When in doubt, I walk away with my child.

Fortunately, such kids also usually have absent parents. I usually take the opportunity to teach that child to be kind and gentle.

There are schools of thoughts which think that the child should be left alone to struggle through experiences. Too much parental intervention would cause the child to be over-reliant on adults and not develop self defenses. I also believe that – but I believe in applying age-appropriateness for everything. A pre-schooler is too vulnerable and malleable to allow natural forces to take over. She needs to feel love and security amidst life’s challenges.

Sometimes, recently when my child is older, I watch her hurt herself or get bullied… but I just watch to see her reactions and not intervene. If she can manage, I let her work it through with her playmates. That’s when she tests out the values and skills that she already has and reaps the consequences accordingly.

Everyday, I pray for wisdom as a parent – to do what suits my family and child.